News & Information

New Regional Metadata Requirements Adopted by SanGIS and SDRGC

Project to Standardize Metadata Creation and Editing

The San Diego Regional GIS Council (SDRGC) Metadata Working Group has been meeting every two weeks since January 2014 to develop a standardized, efficient means of GIS metadata creation and editing. The group consisted originally of eight individuals representing SANDAG, SanGIS, City of San Diego and County of San Diego but opened to other SDRGC attendees in mid-March. These minimum requirements have now been adopted by the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, SanGIS, and SANDAG. These agencies are now in the process of updating all GIS metadata to meet the new requirements.

As most GIS users know, creating metadata in ArcCatalog can be both challenging and confusing. It can be difficult to decide which information is essential and where the manually entered information will show up once the metadata is saved and viewed from either ArcCatalog or ArcMap. The Metadata Working Group first determined which metadata standard to use (ISO 19139), which information is required at minimum to enter manually, and how to enter the required information within the various elements of the standard. They also developed Frequently Asked Questions, to which users may add.

Four documents have been developed to assist users in implementing the new requirements. These documents can be found on the SanGIS website under the Documents\Polices & Procedures page. or on the SDRGC Documents page. The four documents are:

1. SanGIS Metadata Requirements - a comprehensive guide to the new SanGIS Minimum Required Metadata Elements, including instructions for creating a metadata template (containing key information common to all datasets within the user's organization) and a detailed step by step guide on metadata creation and editing including examples.

2. SanGIS Metadata Quick Reference Guide - a concise two-page list of the minimum required elements within the ISO 19139 metadata standard describing each element.

3. SanGIS Metadata Cheat Sheet - a concise one-page spreadsheet of the minimum required elements within the ISO 19139 metadata standard that are not automatically completed by ArcGIS, showing their location within the groups, sections and sub-sections. Includes brief descriptions of required elements.

4. Metadata Frequently Asked Questions - frequently asked questions about how the standard was established, how to submit corrections or suggestions, clarifications, etc.

The Regional Metadata Working Group is ongoing with scheduled bi-weekly meetings to discuss any refinements, a customized style sheet for exporting metadata to a publishable format (PDF) and web map metadata creation. If you have any questions about the group or metadata, please contact SanGIS at 858-874-7000 or send email to

If you would like to participate in future metadata meetings, you are invited to attend. Go to the SDRGC web site for information on the meeting schedule. Although SDRGC membership is not required to attend meetings, you are encouraged to join SDRGC. Membership is free. The application can be found on the SDRGC Home Page.